A Shirt Tale


| 4/4/2011 9:33:59 AM


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Sam Moore 
 

This story is for the women in the audience who occasionally become exasperated with their mates. I have a tattered, bound volume of the monthly farm paper American Agriculturist for the year of 1866. Like most farm papers, each issue of the Agriculturist contained a section devoted to farm wives. In the August issue was a piece titled, All About Men’s Shirts.

The writer begins: “A long time ago I undertook the supervision of a set of shirts, including, of course, their wearer. It was the height of my young ambition that the man should be exactly fitted by his shirts.” Just a month after the marriage, the man began complaining, telling his bride: “There isn’t a single one that fits me.”

The young wife continues: “I flattered myself that the difficulty would be easily remedied. So I ripped here and basted there, pulled up this shoulder and pulled down that, until I thought I had quite got it.” The shirts still didn’t suit her husband, so she enlisted the help of friends and, finally “... employed a tailor to try his skill. Not one whit better. The man was getting – and I was getting – desperate.”

She then took her problem to the local sewing society. After many attempts, the women finally managed to make a shirt, about which, when asked if it fit, her husband exclaimed, “Why, yes, really I can’t suggest any improvements.” The wife was joyful and she and the society made an additional six shirts exactly like the one that fit so well. “‘Capital!’ affirmed our representative of the lordly sex,” after trying on the new shirts. “‘Not a thread amiss. It is the first time in my life that a shirt has exactly fitted me.’”

Not two days went by, before the man told his wife that the shirt collars were, “‘..(probably) from your great desire not to choke me...rather large.’” The long-suffering wife, admitting under her breath, to being “..a little tempted to try (choking him),” replied, “… with great dignity: ‘Tell me precisely how much to cut out.’ ‘Just about an inch.’” the man replied, whereupon the good wife, through “wrathful tears,” cried: “‘I believe the mischief is all in your neck, which dilates and contracts on purpose to torment me.’”